Hollie Mcnish has taken to the road on her first UK poetry tour in support of her new album, Versus and book, Cherry Pie – and us Cambridge folk couldn’t be prouder!

Hollie Mcnish has been taking the poetry scene by storm for a while with clever and funny poems that tackle real issues in a down to earth way. Two of her poems ‘Embarrassed’ and ‘Mathematics’ recently went viral on YouTube and she has had the likes of Kate Tempest and George the Poet joining her on this tour. For the Cambridge leg of the tour she was supported by rapper Inja and local poet Charlotte Higgins.

Inja is an exceptionally talented local artist who defies the stereotypical rapper. His work spans a variety of genres including Hip hop, Grime, Dubstep and freestyle poetry. For his set, Inja gave us a window into his day to day life as an artist and as a father. Stand out tracks included a rap recipe inspired by his love of cooking. Inja closed his set with a poem about the challenges and rewards of fatherhood that the audience loved.

Although he doesn’t consider himself a poet, Inja’s words can only be considered poetic and his delivery both with music and without is a pleasure to hear.

Inja currently performs as a solo act and as part of two bass music duos; one with Dubstep Dj Captain Crunch; the other with drum n bass legend Dj Die; and is resident at Warning, Bass laced and Stink Like Sock, some of the UK’s biggest and longest running bass music nights.

Charlotte Higgins is a name I’ve been hearing around Cambridge for a while now but have never had the pleasure of seeing perform. She is a local poet and writer from Northern Ireland who runs various events in Cambridge, and she is a previous winner of SLAMbassadors UK (2011) and the Foyle Young Poet of the Year award (2010.) Charlotte is an easy poet to watch; her words and calm delivery fully immerse you in the imagery and emotion of her poetry. If you haven’t seen her perform then I highly recommend you do, Charlotte Higgins is a great poet who I’m sure we will be seeing a lot more of in future.

I have seen Hollie perform a lot now but I would honestly say that this was the best performance of hers I have seen. She performed with confidence and grace and was funny and conversational in between poems. The audience got to know Hollie and her grandmothers well throughout the night; her poem bungalow and biscuit tins and other grandmother related poems really make you think of life and what it’s like to get older.

Hollie started her set by telling the audience about her love of spreadsheets and how she had been told to create an arc when performing long sets. Her first arc was her audience’s top 5 favourite poems or how she named it “her top 5 most hated poems on YouTube.”

For the last part of her set, Hollie took the audience on a journey through motherhood that was both educational and brutally honest. It was nice to hear her thoughts before and after the birth of her daughter and I think the audience learned a thing or two about pregnancy, which is something we don’t often talk about.

Hollie Mcnish’s poetry is truly inspiring to people of all ages. I have seen first-hand how she has inspired and encouraged young women in Cambridge and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

You still have a chance to catch Hollie live on the rest of her tour so if I were you I wouldn’t miss the chance!

Words from Nikki Marrone
Picture from Victor-Manuel Ibáñez